Day five of the PWA Catalunya Costa Brava World Cup finally saw the Tramontana whistle down the Pyrenees Mountains to produce an enthralling seven hours of racing in winds of 12-23 knots. By the end of the day a further two eliminations had been completed.
Antoine Albeau (RRD / NeilPryde) stormed to victory in race two to claim his first bullet of the season, before arch rival Bjorn Dunkerbeck (Starboard / Severne / Chris Benz / Dunkerbeck Eyewear) returned to winning ways in the third elimination. Albeau now sits proudly at the top of the rankings, but with an excellent forecast for tomorrow there is still all to play for.
In the opening winners’ final of the day Antoine Albeau timed his start to perfection before flying down the first reach clearly in the lead ahead of Benoit Moussilmani (Simmer), Pierre Mortefon (Fanatic / North) and Cyril Moussilmani (Starboard / Severne). After a textbook gybe Albeau continued to increase his lead over the rest of the fleet as he clinched an emphatic first victory of the season. Behind him Mortefon produced an inspired performance to claim second place, whilst Cedric Bordes (Tabou / GA Sails) eventually finished just in front of Benoit Moussilmani, who ran slightly wide on his second gybe, to finish third and fourth respectively. Cyril Moussilmani backed up his opening second place with a solid fifth place.
Words from the winner of race two Antoine Albeau: 'Today was actually great for me because we finally had some wind as the Tramontana came through. I had a really solid first elimination today because I won all of my heats. I had great starts in both the semifinal and the final. So after winning the first elimination of the day and in the next one I also managed to make the final. In that one I had an okay start before finishing third, so overall I’m pretty happy about how today played out.'
Elsewhere in the second elimination there was plenty of drama. Heat three saw Marco Lang (Fanatic / North) and Jordy Vonk (F2 / Point-7) miss out on a place in the quarterfinals. The duo were placed first and second as they approached the second mark, before they made a catastrophic error of sailing to the wrong mark - fourth instead of second. Neither were able to recover from what proved to be a highly costly mistake.
There were also a number of big name casualties in the first round, such as Gonzalo Costa Hoevel (Starboard / Loft Sails) in the opening heat. The Argentinian was in the top four as he approached the first mark, but unfortunately failed to collect his sail on the new tack to fall to the back of the pack. Other big names to fall early included the likes of Jimmy Diaz (Starboard / North Sails), Andrea Rosati (RRD / NeilPryde), Antoine Questel (Starboard / Loft Sails) and Peter Volwater (Starboard / KA Sail).
However, every cloud has a silver lining and in this case that was in the form of debutant Alejandro Alcazar (Patrik / GA Sails) who advanced from heat three along with Chris Pressler (Starboard / Severne). Bruno Martini (RRD), who is only twenty years old, also booked his place in the quarters after successfully navigating his way through heat five. Elimination Three, Winners’ Final
With the Tramontana continuing to blow Bjorn Dunkerbeck appeared to be back to his brilliant best as he revelled in the stronger winds. The Terminator exploded across the line in first place, and with a point to prove he was never going to relinquish his lead. Sure enough Dunkerbeck turned on the turbochargers over the remainder of the course, without giving anyone so much as a look in, to blitz away the rest of the field. It wasn’t long before he was claiming his first bullet in quite some time, but more importantly the victory also throws him right back into contention for the event, particularly if and when the discard comes into play. Taty Frans (Starboard / MauiSails / Mystic / MFC) was on fire again as he combined blistering pace with technically perfect gybes to cement second place, holding off Antoine Albeau over the entire course who finished in third to cap a brilliant day for him. Fellow Frenchman Pierre Mortefon completed the top four.
Bjorn Dunkerbeck speaks about returning to winning ways: 'My first victory in a while… I shot off the start with my 8.6m fully powered, I arrived at the first mark with wind and I managed to exit relatively quick. From there I just managed to stay in the lead and hold on. When it works it works. It feels great to be back winning races. Last year we had a lot of racing with 9.6m underpowered. After starting off here on my 10m and still underpowered I was pleased to be on my 7.8m in the first round of today, even though it was very gusty I managed to get a couple of bullets under my belt in the early rounds, unfortunately I didn’t make the final of race two but in elimination three I did a lot better. It feels great to win the final again after such a long time. It’s the first one of this year and hopefully not the last one.'
The third elimination started in dramatic fashion as Enes Yilmazer (Starboard / Severne), Enrico Marotti (JP / NeilPryde) and Jimmy Diaz all jumped the gun. With just five sailors remaining Finian Maynard (RRD / Avanti) claimed first followed by Mateus Isaac (JP / NeilPryde) - who is making his debut - Maciek Rutkowski (Patrik / Point-7) and Ertugrul Icingir (Patrik / Point-7).
In the quarterfinals there were a number of shocks. Firstly Matteo Iachino (Fanatic / North) narrowly missed out on a place in the semifinals after finishing fifth in heat ten, before last year’s PWA Vice-World Champion and event leader at the start of the day - Alberto Menegatti (Starboard / Point-7) - took an earlier than expected exit. Julien Quentel (RRD / NeilPryde), who finished third overall last year also suffered the same fate, having finished seventh in heat eleven. Elimination Four
The fourth race was started but only the first six heats were completed before the wind became more flukey and gusty. One final attempt was made to complete heat seven, but even before the green flag was raised the wind already dropped below the minimum of seven knots, at this point the day was drawn to a close.
Tomorrow’s forecast promises more strong winds with the Tramontana continuing to blow. According to the locals the wind should funnel through even stronger tomorrow, if the normal pattern prevails. The skippers’ meeting tomorrow will be held an hour after sunrise at 7:30am with the action commencing from 8am. PWA World Tour